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COVID-19 vaccine shortage forces Bangladesh to postpone special drive

Health minister announced immunization plan for marginalized people Aug. 7-12, without pre-registration

Md. Kamruzzaman   | 05.08.2021
COVID-19 vaccine shortage forces Bangladesh to postpone special drive

DHAKA, Bangladesh

Bangladesh has postponed an ambitious week-long plan to inoculate 10 million people across the country due to a shortage of COVID-19 vaccines, a source said on Thursday.

Last week, Health Minister Zahid Maleque announced the immunization plan for marginalized people from Aug. 7-12, without pre-registration.

However, at a meeting of top government health officials on Wednesday, the decision was deferred. "We do not have enough shots at the moment, but we will run a one-day drive on Saturday,” an official at the Health Ministry told Anadolu Agency on the condition of anonymity.

The South Asian nation of nearly 165 million people has so far recorded over 1.3 million COVID-19 cases and 21,638 related deaths.

A recent surge is fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant, a strain first identified in India. To stem the spread of the virus, an ongoing lockdown is in place till Aug. 10.

But the regular vaccination campaign continues. Over 14.1 million shots, including 4.3 million second doses, have been administered.

Rohingya to get inoculated from Aug. 10

Meanwhile, the Rohingya settled in refugee camps in Bangladesh's southern district of Cox’s Bazar are set to get vaccinated from Aug. 10, Anadolu Agency has learned.

“The vaccination of Rohingya refugees will start on Aug. 10 and will first include community leaders, front line refugee volunteers, and elderly refugees over age 55," said Mostafa Mohammad Sazzad Hossain, a spokesman of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Bangladesh.

He said over 65,000 of the nearly 900,000 refugees will be vaccinated in the first cohort.

“The humanitarian community is extremely grateful to the Government of Bangladesh for the inclusion of the Rohingya refugees living in Bangladesh in the national vaccination plan,” he said.

Over 1.2 million Rohingya refugees have been living in Bangladesh refugee camps, said to be the world’s largest refugee settlement. They fled a brutal military crackdown in their home country of Myanmar’s Rakhine state in August 2017.

According to data from Bangladesh's Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commission, at least 28 Rohingya have died due to COVID-19, while over 2,500 have been infected.

Dhaka has also relocated 20,000 refugees to the remote island of Bhasan Char, where no infections have been confirmed yet.

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